Zimbabwe the sparing partner of Bangladesh in World Cricket is back again for another round of bouts in all three formats of cricket – test, ODIs and T20s. While Zimbabwean cricket has shown signs of ascendancy off late Bangladesh national team is in all sorts of problem. Captain of ODI Mashrafe Bin Mortaza Member of Bangladesh Parliament has not appeared in any international cricket after CWC 2019. Captain of T20 and Test leading all rounder of world cricket Shakib Al Hasan is serving ICC one year ban from all forms of cricket. Top opening batsman Tamim Iqbal is feeling his way back to International cricket, arguably the best technically-equipped batsman Mushfiqur Rahim voluntarily stayed out of Pakistan tour, Mahmudullah for his poor form has been rested from Test squad. Leading pace bowler Mustafiz looked rusty. In such a situation Bangladesh suffered humiliating defeats against Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. In such situation it is not guaranteed that Bangladesh can win in any form of cricket against even Zimbabwe which again for different reasons is not in full strength. Bangladesh will play one test, 3 ODIs and 2 T20 matches over the next few before two matches between International XI and Asia XI takes place in Dhaka in late march on the occasion of birth centenary of Father of Bangladesh Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. That will be followed by the third phase of Bangladesh tour to Pakistan ( one test and One ODI ) in April. It is to be mentioned here that Zimbabwe responds to Bangladesh request for visiting Bangladesh for bilateral series even without FTP. In other words Zimbabwe is the favorite sparing partner of Bangladesh.
Zimbabwe Squad: Craig Irvine (Captain), Prince Masavaure (Batsman), Sikandar Raza (Batting All Rounder), Timycen Maruma (Batting All Rounder), Brian Mudzinganyama (Batting All Rounder), Tirotenda Mutombodzi (Bowling All Rounder), Rezis Chakava (Wicket Keeper Batsman), Kevin Kasuza (Wicket Keeper Batsman), Brendan Taylor (Wicket Keeper Batsman) , Chris Mpofu (Bowler), Carl Mumba (Bowler), Ashley Ndivou ( Bowler), Victor Nyauchi (Bowler), Donald Tiripano (Bowler) and Carlton Tahuma ( Bowler)
There are only few players known to Bangladesh. Most of the bowlers however are unknown to Bangladesh. But in recent time Zimbabwean Cricket appears to be steadily getting back to second gear. Bangladesh has no reason to underestimating.
The tourists would start the mission appearing in a two days warm up match against BCB XI from 18 February where 6 of the recent Under19 world cup winning team would appear at BKSP Dhaka.
BCB XI : Naim Sheikh, Pervez Hossain Emon, Mahmudul Hasn Joy, Akbar Ali, Al Amin (Junior) Captain, FardinAni, Shoriful Islam , Sumon Khan , Makidul Islam Muudho, Aminul Islam Biplob, Rishad Ahmed, Shahadat Hossian and Tanzid Hasan Tamim
Many would say it is deserving reward for some members of teenage tigers team. Others may also think whether BCB did it right exposing the teenagers too early to red cherry cricket against a full international team hungry for success. After all Under 19 cricket in white ball and longer version in red ball are two different ball games. Let us hope the future aspirants perform admirably. All eyes would definitely be focused on Emon, Joy, Akbar, Shoriful, Shahadat and Tamim. It will be a useful practice for Naim Sheikh and Aminul as well.
None of the test squad were selected for the warm up match. The 16 men squad declared for the only test are said to be occupied in BCL. Only 11 will play the test. There are some players who are 50 :50. Why not they were given some flavor of international cricket to test their readiness for test level as Bangladesh is not getting any chance for testing few options for the remaining test against Pakistan.
Bangladesh has discarded leading middle order batsman Mahmudullah from the test squad. Minhazul Abedin , Chief Selector off course said Mahmudullah was rested . Was it not all right giving him opportunity to get back into top flight against relatively weaker team in home condition? Only time will say whether Mahmudullah will be required for test against Pakistan. He is a quality batsman and will definitely bounce back.
Test Squad: Mominul Haque (c), Tamim Iqbal, Saif Hassan, Najmul Hossain, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mohammad Mithun, Liton Das, Taijul Islam, Abu Jayed, Nayeem Hasan, Ebadat Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Mehidy Hasan, Mustafizur Rahman, Hasan Mahmud, Yasir Ali.
When Tamim is still not in full flight why not his vastly experienced opening partner Imrul Kayes was given a go? Saif Hasan could be in the squad. Bangladesh will not get another opportunity soon to give Imrul another opportunity soon. Nazmul Shanto and Yasir Ali got tons of runs in BCL ok. But we can not rely on century scorers of domestic cricket with test matches against any opposition. We can not totally agree that axing Mahudullah in the present condition of Bangladesh test team was ok. There was every chance that he could get back to form and Bangladesh badly needed that for tests against major oppositions in not too distant future.
There must not be any worry about form of Tamim. Top quality batsman is steadily getting back to his act. Perhaps Saif may also grow with time. I will not agree that with Mushfique back in the team Mominul should be batting at four. Whatever successful Shanto may be against Pakistan Mominul is a number three and Mushfique is number four position batsman. This must not be altered .Shanto can bat at five and Mithun at six. If MehedyMiraj is in the team how will Yasir Ali be accommodated? Bangladesh would definitely appear with at least two spinners. In that case Miraj and Taijul are options. Bangladesh has included five pacers bringing back Mustafiz and Taskin, retaining Abu Jayed, Ebadat and including rookie speedster Mahmudul Hasan. Will they produce green top pacey wicket? Will they appear with three pacers? How could Mustafiz and Taskin force their way into the team when they were not even in the touring squad to Pakistan only couple of weeks back? Does not it sound ridiculous? There was no reason questioning the ability of Mushfique. He is the number one batsman in all format of the game and automatic choice. If Shakib and Tamim could choose when and when not to play what wrong Mushfique did opting out from Pakistan tour as his family was reluctant letting him go for security concerns?
We hope after dismal performances over the past four tests three abroad and one at home Bangladesh must re-establish its credential in test even against lowly Zimbabwe. It has to have a team effort and we hope they can do it. Otherwise critics will say Mr Interference is responsible for wholesale changes of Bangladesh test squad. Bangladesh has back to the wall and has to bounce back with team efforts.
BDST: 2116 HRS, FEB 17, 2020